Sara Sanders Gardner's work in the autism and disability fields began in 2001, and includes creating and directing a nationally recognized neurodiversity college access program at Bellevue College in Washington State, and creating and delivering Autism and Neurodiversity at Work training workshops for Microsoft's Autism Inclusive Hiring program at their Redmond, WA and Sunnyvale, CA locations since 2015. Connect on LinkedIn
As an autistic individual navigating a career for 30 years, Sara has the lived experience to understand and communicate the subject matter. As an autistic disability professional who has worked in the field since 2001, Sara has experience learning about and working with thousands of unique autistic and otherwise disabled individuals and their families.
Autism at Work and Neurodiversity at Work content includes a social justice perspective that encompasses autistic and neurodivergent communication in context, barriers faced by autistic and other neurodivergent individuals, and a conversation about Autism and Disability as a Culture. Viewed through a social justice lens, we examine accommodations, impacts of disability, and autistic and non-autistic communication styles. Attendees frequently leave with a better understanding of interactions with all colleagues, including but not limited to neurodivergent colleagues.
Q1) How can you do this in one hour? Most trainers are quoting at least a half-day!
A1) Experience proves that effective training doesn't have to be complicated or long. Recent research shows that the real barrier is in the difficulty that non-autistic people and autistic people experience in understanding each other. This workshop breaks down those barriers, including barriers they didn't realize existed between others groups.
Q2) Why do you use the word "autistic"? Isn't "person with autism" better?
A2) As an autistic individual myself, I use identity first language almost exclusively. Others may decide that person-first language is more comfortable for them, however, the disabled person should be the one to ultimately decide how they wish to be defined.
Q3) Does the autistic or neurodivergent co-worker attend the workshop?
A3) It depends. If it's a new hire, sometimes the workshop is held prior to their starting date. However, many neurodivergent employees have attended these workshops with overwhelmingly positive responses to the material. If they do attend, they can add to the conversation. It should be up to them, of course.
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For interviewers, hiring managers, managers, and colleagues of new hires, or someone transferring to a new team.
Examine definitions of autism / neurodiversity, including social justice definition, communication needs and interaction tools, autism and neurodivergence as disabilities and as cultures, strengths and potential barriers, and how to provide support and inclusion.
Same as above, with a focus on interviewing, evaluating, and hiring neurodivergent candidates, including accommodations in the interview.
For those who have attended the first workshop and have worked with a neurodivergent colleague or employee for at least two months. This workshop examines potential scenarios that might arise (tailored to your workplace) and allows more time for problem-solving your specific questions and situations.
Learn problem-solving and communication skills that will support all employees in better understanding each other and working together. Create collaborative, productive, respectful teams and organizations with the systems and tools to get things done.
When we are struggling with parenting concerns, work can become more difficult. Consider these parenting workshops for employees who are raising neurodivergent children.
An overview of four tools that support self-efficacy, optimism, motivation, and more. Learn the elements of internal motivation and how to support it in your child, no matter their age or ability. This workshop also reveals why typical tools of motivation simply don’t work for some children, teens, and young adults, and what to do about it.
Dig deeper into how to reliably solve problems with your neurodivergent child, no matter their age or ability. Learn to support them in learning communication and problem-solving skills that they can transfer across settings and use their entire lives.
Building on the tools introduced in the first and second workshops, parents and caregivers are supported in their individual situations, and learn the skills through experiential learning weekly. The whole family benefits from immersion and practicing the principles and skills of collaboration, goal-directed learning, strengths-based education, and more.